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The War Within Islam ( 13 Oct 2013, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Arab, the Sick Man of Asia


By Nastik Durrani, New Age Islam

September 26,, 2013

One can easily note that the Arab world has grabbed considerable attention of the west since the year 2011. The Arab Spring has fuelled this fire by doubling the West’s interest in the region. But does it imply that Arabs are no more “sick men” of the world community, as they were taken to be before the year 2011?  Or is the Arab Spring a season that passes away without catapulting a “sick man” into a healthy one?

But why have the Arabs been tagged with the title of “sick men” in the first place? Historically, this label was first given to the Ottoman Empire by Russia on account of the declining of the Empire. Later on, the label became popular to the extent that European countries started to use it frequently. Nevertheless, Arabs have not yet been tagged with it in a formal way, though sometimes media persons and a number of forums with political agenda use it only for the Arabs. Anyway, the question is simply what made the Arabs “sick men”?

Lebanese historian George Karam had tagged the Arabs with this label (sick men) in his interview to the magazine “Hiwar al-Arab”. It proves that this label was given to the Arabs even before the “Arab Spring” and the year 2011. Now the question is why the Arabs were tagged as “sick men” even before 2011?

The reasons may be as follows:

1- Dynamics of failure that led to the brain drain from the Arab world to the Western countries, because the Arab world could not benefit from the Arab individuals who possessed skills and knowledge.

2 - West’s indifference to the Arab world.

3 - The political instability and the rampant financial corruption in the Arab world.

4 - Deteriorating standard and declining quality of education that churns out ineligible youth and ultimately results in the increase of unemployment.

5 - Incompetence to absorb the new technological and scientific revolutions the major reason of which is their bad habit of clinging to the obsolete past.

6 – Lack of appreciation for the citizens playing important role in the development of the country.

7 - Increasing unemployment rates that lead to the unceasing poverty and national instability. This was the prime reason behind the outbreak of the “Arab revolutions” in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria and other countries.

8 - Singing praises of their great past hoping that today's mistakes can be rectified by this way, and that they would not end up like Greece.

9 - Ambition to achieve political independence in the second half of the twentieth century without any previous political experience that resulted in endless problems deterrent to development. Piled up for long, these problems eventually started to burst like a bomb in 2010 and 2011 and gave birth to the “Arab Spring”.

10- Miserable failure of Arabs in solving the issue of Palestine by means of both war and peace as a result of which the West kept silent. It seems as if such an issue does not exist at all in this world, particularly when the problem is viewed in the context of growing power of Israel and declining state of Palestine.

Now the question is whether the Arab world is still viewed as “sick man” or not? To my view, the answer should be in the affirmative. The reason is that the Arab world has failed to bring any solution to this plethora of problems. This is precisely why the West has tagged the Arabs as “sick men”. Human history reveals that any revolution requires at least five years to bring out its initial results. Arab Spring is no exception. But we think it will take more time as the political structure of the Arabs is completely different, apart from having abundance of problems with their political experience being abysmally nil.

Let us now fix our eyes on finding panacea for the ills of these “sick men”. I believe if the following steps are seriously taken, these “sick men” can turn into “healthy and powerful men”:

1- Serious efforts to uproot the rampant financial and political corruption  

2- Radical systemic reforms in the educational institutions in terms of curriculum and structure in an effort to produce eligible and competent Arab youth so that they can meet the requirements of the Arab labour market. It will help them reduce their dependence on the foreign labour and put an end, even though not completely, to the unemployment that is the root cause of the instability of the region.

3 - Full utilisation of national resources in the sectors of education, health and human development as human development is more important than the construction of the buildings and palaces.

4 - And finally, along with other things which this short write-up cannot afford to present, it is important not to cling to only one ideology and not to wage a war against other ideologies and theories. Instead, every opposite view should be accorded full liberty and protection so that people can freely express themselves and an open environment of ideas may come into existence in the state.

(Translated from Urdu by Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, New Age Islam)

URL for the Urdu article:,-new-age-islam-ناستک-درّانی/arab-the-sick-man-of-asia-عرب---عالمی-برادری-کا-بیمار-آدمی/d/13690